NASCAR insiders visit “Burst the Bubble” course

An Elon sophomore organized an informal Winter Term class to teach about the sport she loves & invited industry figures to speak.


NASCAR driver Casey Mears made a stop Tuesday at Elon University with his pit crew chief and a longtime auto racing executive, the three of whom spoke with students in a Winter Term “Burst the Bubble” class led by a current student.

Organized by sophomore Alivia Mattioli, a sport and event management major with career aspirations in auto racing, “No Speed Limit: The In’s & Out’s of NASCAR!” educates students about the sport’s history, its governance, and the founders who pioneered and shaped it to be the industry it is today.

“My vision in starting the class was to leave my mark at Elon in a unique way by teaching students that NASCAR isn’t just all left turns and that there is such a vast industry behind the sport.” Mattioli said. “For anyone who thinks that on race day a track operator opens the gate and says ‘have at it, you’re sadly mistaken.

“If I was able to teach one student something throughout this process then it was worth it because at the same time I learned more about my passions and goal setting then I thought I would.”

Driver of the #13 GEICO Ford car for Germain Racing, Mears was accompanied by “Bootie” Barker, his crew chief, and by Cal Wells P’14, the former team owner of PPI Motorsports and a longtime figure in auto racing. Mattioli connected several times with Wells, the parent of an Elon junior, after he visited a class last year, and when Mattioli invited him to take part in the “Burst the Bubble” course, he readily accepted.

Wells has been family friends with Mears for decades, which led to the driver and pit chief’s involvement in the program. “I believe the future is very bright for (auto racing),” Wells told students in the class. “There’s not an area captured within NASCAR that doesn’t touch on everybody’s lives.”

Started in 2007, “Burst the Bubble” programs are student-taught workshops that focus on subjects found outside of most classrooms. The program encourages students who have a talent, interest or skill to teach free workshops with no homework assignments or final exams.